Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The magazine collage-style computerized illustrations are heavy on the girly details. Page after page is cluttered with flowers, toys strewn about, tea sets and other such girlish accoutrements. Her pet unicorn, which only she can see, pales away to a ghostly translucent shade of white whenever her family is nearby. This device somewhat reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes… although this book is a great deal less tongue-in-cheek, keeping things pretty simple and syrupy sweet. Pinkalicious and her brother traipse after Goldilicious through a number of locales: a picnic with screamingly green grass and flowers crowding in at the edges, a kiddie-pool where Goldie has dolled herself up in movie-star sunglasses and a fancy mermaid tail, a ride on a gorgeously swagged orange hot air balloon.
When Goldilicious goes missing, the hunt is on. Clouds shaped like unicorns and huge equine constellations are overlooked, 'til Pinkilicious finally finds Goldie right where her parents hoped she would… in bed, as bedtime approaches. The message is clear. Goldilicious might be imaginary… but Pinkilicious and her invisible friend aren’t going to be parted anytime soon.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
This award is given to new blogs and blogging friends.
The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
The donation program is a only a wee-bit more convoluted than ordering and donating a book from a major online bookseller, but I'm very impressed that they chose to work with an independent bookseller.
Access the Book Fair for Boys list through the main wish list page. Enter their email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From there you can survey the list on one page and after you have made your selections, here is the mailing address:
5850 Brookline Lane
San Luis Obispo, CA
All of the donated books MUST be paperbacks. No exceptions!
It looks as though there have been a lot of generous folk to the site already, but there's still plenty more titles available on the list to choose from.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Kids are invited to sleuth through history revealing wild true stories and uncovering false rumors in this 64-page illustrated book. The "story" is presented first and after turning the page, the "conclusion" True, False or Unconfirmed follows. Although the illustrations are digital art, they have the textured feel of acrylics. I was reminded very much of the work of Diane Stanley. I also liked the yellow antique paper treatment on all the pages, and the faux gilt leather design on the cover. There's a fair touch of humor, with wacky sidebars and speech bubbles over historical figures with silly comments. For example, King Henry, peering at Anne of Cleves portrait is saying, "Ahh, yes. I will marry her. She is beautiful... I think?"
My favorite page was the contest between dueling historians each making their case for Peter the Great, "Peter was a monster" vs. "Peter was a saint" the best device I've seen yet for teaching critical thinking. I see so many kids who are used to memorizing and spitting things back out for the test, and the format for this book seems perfectly geared for forcing kids to really think about things. The book ends with a copious bibliography, and there's even an accompanying website raucousroyals.com for those who want to explore further.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I don't know if it's because of the recession, but our book donations seem to have quadrupled recently. Maybe folks are downsizing or getting rid of their rented storage space? Sadly, we get an awful lot of items that are completely beyond saving. People just can't bear to see a book go on the recycling heap, so they bring it to us, hoping we can do something with it. I've seen plenty of books water-damaged, cobwebby or covered in mold, and once someone even brought in a box of books their cat had peed on, saying, "You work in a library! Do you think you can you fix this?" (I didn't have the heart to tell them no... I just snuck the box into the trash once they'd left.) It's heartwarming, in a way, to see how much respect people have for the written word.
Once in a while, after sorting through the usual "junk" that we get, I run across a treasure like this one. Someone must have tucked this away and never used it at all as it's in near perfect condition. Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls was first published in 1957, and it's full of wonderful two-tone vintage illustrations throughout. There are several full-color inserts which have a very saturated technicolor look. Best of all, are the quotes from children that caption the end of recipes. There are a number of quotes from boys eager to assure us that cooking is not too feminine an activity; "Baking is as much fun as my chemistry set. And you can eat what you mix up." - Eric. On a page of cake recipes: "I made one for Dad's birthday. It was Spice Cake with Caramel Fudge Frosting and Dad said it was keen." - Peter. Meanwhile, Elizabeth tells us, "If I were a mama, I'd cook all day."
The recipes actually look pretty good. Only a few of the ingredients looked unfamiliar to me. The recipe for "American Pizza" which the book carefully explains is a kind of "Italian Pie" calls for a half pound of "nippy cheese" whatever that is. A lot of recipes use mixes and other prepared foods to speed things along. A great deal of them feature food decorated to look like smiley faces, which I know I loved as a kid. I found the whole book to be a kitschy pleasure... I think whoever buys it out of our bookstore is in for a real treat.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Well, if this isn't the most unique thing I've seen in a while! It's a convention, July 17-20 in Mankato, Minnesota, completely devoted to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. They're hosting games, tours, some discussion panels and Meg Cabot will be guest-speaking.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Anderson takes us back to Superman and Batman's roots in this action-packed novel set in the late 1950's. I must confess, I haven't read very much of the original DC Comics, always having been a little better acquainted with the Marvel stories. I couldn't help but picture Christopher Reeve though, especially in those scenes where Clark is a nervous bumbler.
I felt Anderson ably rounded out the character of Superman, portraying him as a shy charmer with a big heart. Superman's loneliness as the only surviving member of his planet is emphasized. Even though he always referred to himself in his own thoughts as "Kal-El" he felt equally at ease as Clark Kent. Serious consideration is given to his life as Clark Kent, his honest desire to be a successful newsman, and his genuine attachment to his adoptive mother. And of course, he's klutzy around Lois Lane. He's also earnest to a fault.
Anderson struggles a bit with the character development of Batman, leaning on James Bond cliches to round him out, including having Bruce Wayne drink martinis, drive the same model car and wear the same wristwatch as Bond.
Lex Luthor is depicted as a hard-nosed mafioso, an impetuous and a cold-blooded killer. There's no sly wink that makes him the villain we love to hate, a la Captain Hook to Superman's Peter Pan. Luthor is in bed with the Ruskies, as he cooks up schemes to intimidate and frighten the American populace with faked flying saucers and nuclear threats which will further his business interests. Luthor is quite misogynist and ageist, sending his elderly and female employees to certain deaths working in radiation mines. I was only surprised that Anderson didn't portray him as racist too, but perhaps that was a can of worms that he didn't want to open.
Probably the most surreal were scenes where Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor meet for business dealings, or where Clark Kent and Jimmy Olson chat with Albert the butler before interviewing Wayne for a newspaper article. Worlds collide!
There are several cameos from several famous world figures of the day, more to remind readers that the book takes place in the 1950’s than anything else.
While the two heroes initially mistrust each other, they quickly realize it will be to their mutual advantage to join forces. Batman is extremely jealous of Superman’s unearthly abilities, having to rely on gadgets himself; but it turns to his advantage when Superman is crippled by a enormous Kryptonite meteor, and the unaffected Batman is able to save the Man of Steel.
While some reviewers will certainly declare this novel another “workmanlike” production, Anderson does strive for deft phrasing, often eschewing simpler terms. In the busy newsroom, Clark Kent focuses on "the sheet of bond rolled into the platen." of his manual typewriter. Cigar-chomping Perry White's office is described reeking of "resinous, pungeunt smoke."
It appears that the book has been through a couple of design changes. The latest version I've seen features a black cover with the iconic Batman and Superman symbols outlined in red. The advance reader copy I read had the same black cover, with the symbols in full color. I’m curious if the back cover will retain the cartoon images of Superman and Batman splayed across it... it certainly sums up the appeal of the book. Those who grew up on Superfriends Saturday morning cartoons as well as teen comic book fans will be glad to return to a universe familiar to them with a fresh twist. Enemies and Allies will be released on May 5, 2009.